I spent the past week at my parents’ house helping my dad recover from his hip replacement surgery. While I was prepared to cook, clean, and do laundry for him, I was not prepared for the onslaught of emotions that came with it.

My dad does not have Alzheimer’s or dementia, but in some ways caring for him greatly triggered memories of caring for my mom over the years.

Helping him in and out of the recliner in their family room—the same recliner my mom used to sit in.

Helping him walk down their street and to the pond with his cane or walker—the same street and the same pond I used to walk to with my mom.

Looking up to see him sitting in a wheelchair at their kitchen table, waiting for me to bring him his meal—the same way my mom used to sit at the same kitchen table, waiting for me to bring her her meal.

Ugh.

Heartbreaking, to say the least.

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I was definitely not prepared for the fresh wave of grief that came with staying in my parents’ home for a week.

I was surrounded by constant reminders of my mom and endless realizations that she no longer inhabits this space.

I would walk around the house and wonder . . . 

How many times did she stand at this sink washing the dishes?

How many times did she cook dinner for our family at this stove?

How many times did she shower in this bathroom and put on this bathrobe when she was done?

How many times did she close this bedroom door after tucking me in and saying goodnight?

I can picture her in every corner of every room in this house.

I can feel her presence all around me.

It’s as if she just walked out of the room as I entered it.

 

It’s almost as if she’s still here.

But at the same time, it is so painfully obvious that she’s gone.

And she’s never coming back.

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Your childhood home will never be the same after one of your parents dies.

It is empty, yet somehow it is still full.

Full of love.

Full of memories.

Full of nostalgia.

But forever empty of her.

I think part of what triggered me so much is that I now have a glimpse into my dad’s life without my mom.

It is sad and lonely.

He is sad and lonely.

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The only thing harder than losing my mom is seeing my dad lost without her.

I guess we just miss her and as normal as that is, it still sucks.

And it probably always will.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Lauren Dykovitz

Lauren Dykovitz is a writer and author. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two black labs. Her mom, Jerie, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2010 at age 62. Lauren was only 25 years old at the time. Jerie passed away in April 2020 after a ten-year battle with Alzheimer's. Lauren writes about her experience on her blog, Life, Love, and Alzheimer’s. She has also been a contributing writer for several other Alzheimer’s blogs and websites. Lauren self-published her first book, Learning to Weather the Storm: A Story of Life, Love, and Alzheimer's. She is also a member of AlzAuthors, a group of authors who have written books about Alzheimer’s and dementia. Please visit lifeloveandalzheimers.com to read more about Lauren’s journey.